Lestat opens on Broadway—to harsh reviews

BY admin

April 27 2006 12:00 AM ET

The third vampire
musical to try its luck on Broadway in four years drew
all the familiar puns in scathing reviews Thursday that said
Lestat was "bloody awful," "sucked of life,"
and the "kiss of death." Lestat was Hollywood studio
Warner Bros.' first attempt to challenge Disney's
dominance of the mass-market musical genre, reportedly
with a budget of up to $12 million. Based on Anne Rice's
vampire novels, the show features songs by Elton John and
his writing partner, Bernie Taupin.

Expectations had
been low after a critically savaged trial run in San
Francisco. History was also against Lestat
after the failure of two previous vampire musicals, Dance
of the Vampires
in 2002 and Dracula, the
Musical
in 2004.

In a review
headlined "Vampires, the Musical Kiss of Death," The
Washington Post
's Peter Marks said the
fixation with singing vampires had to stop. "Give the
bloodsucker a ballad, and it's his show that joins the
walking dead.... The only thing distinguishing this
musical from its late, unlamented predecessors is that
the lead vampires play for the, er, other team," he said.
"Lestat's contribution to art and equality is
demonstrating that a gay vampire with a two-octave range can
be just as dull as a straight one." The New York
Post
's verdict was "Bloody Awful," and the Newark,
N.J.'s Star-Ledger said it was "just deadly."

The plot, from
Rice's Vampire Chronicles books, follows the 18th century
Frenchman Lestat, who is bitten by a vampire after
slaughtering a pack of wolves. The books were made
into a hit film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in
1994. Lestat's dying mother convinces him to bite her so she
can live forever. His relationship with his childhood
friend Nicholas ends in tragedy, and he does little
better in New Orleans with his next companion, Louis.

Describing
Lestat as a "musical sleeping pill," The New
York Times
critic Ben Brantley said: "The
closest Lestat comes to so-bad-it's-good camp
is in a subplot that might be called Claudia Has Two
Daddies
. Claudia is the little orphan girl brought
home as a peace offering to the sulking Louis by
Lestat, who turns her into a vampire after finding her
destitute on the streets of New Orleans."

In a review
headlined "Undead Lestat sucked of life,"
Newsday's Linda Winer said: "The undead can't
catch a break on Broadway these days.... The curse
continues with Lestat."

In a sign of the
power of bad reviews, the producers of another
high-profile production, the Johnny Cash musical Ring of
Fire
, which opened in March to dismal notices,
announced on Thursday it would close on April 30. Bad
reviews don't always spell doom, particularly for a
show aimed at tourists rather than elitist New
Yorkers, but USA Today's Elysa Gardner said the
gay vampire musical may have trouble appealing to an
audience seeking mainstream family entertainment. "There's
no love like a mother's love, especially if your mom
happens to be a vampire. Unless, that is, you have two
fathers among the living dead," Gardner wrote. "Those
are just a couple of the twists on family values that
threaten to make Lestat...the religious right's
worst nightmare." (Claudia Parsons, Reuters)

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